Donn Pearce, though famous for his works, isn’t necessarily the most recognized face. This is probably why you might not have noticed that he was actually included in the film! Pearce makes his own cameo appearance as a character named Sailor, one of the convicts as well.
Pearce could definitely have had more screen time but the man apparently had some anger issues. After punching someone during the final day of filming, he was banned from the set and even from the movie premiere! This must have stirred up some real controversy.
A Christ-Figure Film
Though you may need to re-watch the film to really comprehend it, "Cool Hand Luke" actually was a particularly relevant and classic example of a "Christ-figure film". This kind of messianic imagery was fairly common in films like Braveheart, ET, or the Gladiator. This film, though, had far more Christological richness than any of the other modern films.
The film encourages us to examine the parallels between two particular shots which were surely designed to draw some comparison to the life of Jesus. The first shot of Cool Hand Luke lying down exhausted on the table after eating 50 eggs is probably the most obvious shot in relation to the crucifixion of Christ. Additionally, Luke is seen speaking to God several times throughout the film, even singing praises.
Delayed by a Banjo
After finding out about his mother’s death, the film shows Luke playing the popular song, "Plastic Jesus", Paul heavily suggested that he'd play the banjo while singing. Seemingly convinced that he could play well, producers took on that idea.
Well, in reality, Newman didn't actually know how to play the banjo. Consequently, his idea delayed the film schedule as he needed to be taught to play the instrument by Harry Dean Stanton who also acted in the film.
The Set Wasn't Actually in Florida
You know just how legitimate a film production is when they can make a set look like a different state! In reality, "Cool Hand Luke", was actually filmed in Sunshine State, though it was set in Florida in the film. This successful production can be attributed to the meticulous work done by the film crew who were actually sent to Tavares Road Prison to take measurements and pictures.
The crew had to accurately re-model the set into the Tavares Road Prison, which included them reconstructing dozens of buildings in Stockton, California. Such attention to detail really made the set seem absolutely seamless! You probably wouldn’t even notice that the barracks, guard houses, and mess hall were all duplicates!
Most Famous Line
True fans of Paul Newman and the film will surely recognize his character's most famous line, "What we've got here is failure to communicate." This very line became one of the most popular movie quotes of all time, marking it as No. 11 on the list of most memorable lines by the American Film Institute.
This line was spoken in the movie first by Strother Martin, playing the Captain, and was later paraphrased by Newman. Martin probably picked it up during the time he spent studying penology and criminology. The line became so well-known that the hard rock band, Guns N' Roses, even used it in some of their songs!